The Old Guard

July 20, 2020

Netflix seems to be becoming the go-to place for fantasy these days. Just watched The Old Guard — I’m not sure if this was supposed to be a theatrical release that got shifted to streaming, but I actually would have liked this one on the big screen. Charlize Theron cements her place as action heroine extraordinaire as Andy, an immortal who leads a team of other immortals who hire out as mercenaries who are trying to make the world a better place. Andy has been doing this for thousands of years. She’s tired, and she’s finally decided she isn’t doing any good at all. She’s wrong, of course, but that comes late. Enter:  Nile, an American Marine killed in action in Afghanistan, except not really, because she’s the first new immortal to appear in 200 years, and Andy adopts her, however reluctant Nile is to be adopted.

I’m always pleased to see something like this that feels like a really classic urban fantasy series in the making. Kick-ass characters with a big supernatural element battling through the world with over-the-top action featuring massive firepower. It passes the Bechdel test handily, in multiple cases. Evil corporate antagonist. This is super, super predictable. Like, every double cross is instantly apparent as a double cross, but somehow I didn’t mind so much that the characters never see it coming. The characters are pleasant enough that I enjoyed the time I spent with them. Count me among those thoroughly intrigued by Joe and Nicky and I’d like a movie about their entire history right now please.

Comparisons to Highlander, which is also about mysterious immortals moving through the world, are easy to do, but it’s the differences that interest me. In Highlander, the immortals are loners. They are destined to do battle, and can’t really afford to be friends because of the fear that they’ll have to kill each other. There’s tension in those rare friendships.  In The Old Guard, the immortals are connected. They dream about each other. They come together because they’re the only family they’ll ever have. They can support each other. I’m fascinated at this difference between a story that came out in the “greed is good” 80’s and one that came out, well, now. Over the last few years I’ve talked about how much I appreciate stories about people who care about each other coming together, versus nihilistic stories of people being horrible to each other. This is another data point on that.

This is based on a comic, which I haven’t read. Yet.

 

3 Responses to “The Old Guard”

  1. jamtur01 Says:

    I did wonder if a lot of the “this is not a surprise, surprise double-crosses” can be traced back to the fact that the characters seem o take their relationships for granted.

    Also, the comic is definitely worth reading. The adaption was pretty solid.

  2. Sean Eric Fagan Says:

    The film I compared this to was another Charlize Theron movie: Hancock. Hancock was *so* close to being good it infuriated me — The Old Guard, on the other hand, fixes almost every single thing it got wrong.

  3. Sandra Says:

    I agree, I would have loved to seen this on a cinema screen. It was well acted, without hamming it up. Very enjoyable, and ending left opening for a sequel.


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